Plymouth Marines beaten up before being given freedom of town
FOUR Royal Marines from Stonehouse were attacked in Littlehampton by a gang of men just hours before they were given the freedom of the very same town.
The attack was labelled as "terrible" by the area's Police and Crime Commissioner who said the news made her "blood boil".
One of the Commandos allegedly had his "head stamped on" by his attacker, another came away with a broken nose.
All of the men, who are serving with Stonehouse-based 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group, had travelled to Littlehampton in Sussex to go on parade having received the Freedom of the City.
But after the attack only one Royal Marine was well enough to join the march.
After the event Sussex's Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, tweeted: "Great to meet the Marines afterwards and shocked to hear that four got beaten up last night in town #notagoodwelcome.
"As a wife of a former soldier it makes my blood boil. I met two of the lads, one had a broken nose and other had head stamped on, terrible."
Speaking to The Herald she added: "I am the wife of a former soldier and Falklands veteran and I was chatting to the Commanding Officer and a sergeant who told me that four of their lads had been beaten up in town the night before.
"I was shocked and very disappointed, I thought it was a real indictment of our society. It is bad that it should happen to anyone but particularly serving members of the Armed Forces.
"Two of the Marines were at the ceremony although not on parade and I asked to meet them and show my support."
Thousands of spectators had lined the streets to welcome the 96 Royal Marines from the unit named after the commandos who inspired Ian Fleming to create James Bond.
The Bond writer was the Commanding Officer for 30 Assault Unit who were based in Littlehampton in 1944.
Mrs Bourne added: "The day had been really uplifting and a lot of people had come to support it so this was quite a sad note. It was a very small minority who upset it for the majority."
All four men, who are aged between 20 and 35, required hospital treatment for "various facial injuries", bruising and cuts.
Police have since appealed for witnesses to the attack.
Officers said the three Marines and one corporal had been walking back to their accommodation having just left a nearby bar when they were assaulted between 2.20am and 2.40am on Saturday October 5 by a group of men believed to be local to the area.
Two men have been arrested for the attack, a 20-year-old man from Angmering and a 22-year-old man from Littlehampton on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and affray respectively.
They were questioned and released on police bail until Friday November 8 while enquiries continue.
A Royal Navy spokesman confirmed they were aware of the incident. He added: "Four Marines sustained injuries due to an alleged assault in the early hours of the Saturday October 5.
"The four were later interviewed by the Sussex Police and provided statements of the incident.
"They all returned to duty, after first reporting to the unit medical officer at the beginning of the week."